Is Distracted Driving the New Drunk Driving?

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THUNDER BAY – Distracted driving is a problem for a lot of drivers. Sometimes it seems getting that seemingly vital text message overrides common sense. In some ways perhaps distracted driving is the new drunk driving.

Older people likely can remember the now ridiculous statements that “I had to drive, I was too drunk to walk”, or that “Real men can handle it”. Today talking on the phone and texting while driving appear to be similar with people ignoring what should be common sense in order to text while driving.

One third (33 per cent) of Canadians admit they have texted while stopped at a red light in the last month, says a poll released today by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

That is despite evidence that your mind could still be distracted and not on the task of driving for up to 27 seconds after interacting with your phone – much longer than the time it takes to drive through an intersection.

“These numbers are troubling,” says Jeff Walker, vice-president of public affairs for CAA National. “The effect of texting at a red light lingers well after the light turns green, making it a dangerous driving habit.”

And while nearly 70 per cent of Canadians believe using their phone at a red light is unacceptable, this has not stopped people from doing it.

“It’s socially unacceptable to drive drunk, and that’s where we need to get with texting,” says Walker. “Attitudes are beginning to shift, but our actions need to follow.”

To learn more about common distractions and how to avoid them, view some surprising statistics on distracted driving, and play CAA’s latest mobile game – TXT U L8R, visit www.caa.ca/distracted-driving.

Findings are based on a CAA poll of 2,012 Canadians.  A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.2%, 19 times out of 20. Details on cognitive distraction can be found in the AAA Foundation’s recent study Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile III.

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